Beware! The Big brothers are watching

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Beware! The Big brothers are watching

Beware of traffic violations, you are being watched! Emboldened by five Red-Eye Enforcement Cameras conspicuously installed at five busy traffic junctions, the City Police’s warning to the Bangalore’s myriad road-users carried enough punch. But that was a year ago. Today, none of these five cameras even work!!

Set up at a cost of Rs 2.5 crores with much fanfare, these cameras were to track the registration number of vehicles that jump signals at traffic junctions. Of course, they worked for sometime and even recorded some footage, but no longer.

Yet, the very visible presence of these cameras at the junctions at least instilled the fear amongst road users. But beyond these Red Eye cameras, the City traffic police rely on about 80 CCTV cameras set up at key junctions. They had to do this, considering the heightened security threats and the ever-rising traffic violations.

Expansion on the cards

The City Police are keen to double the number of surveillance cameras by the next one year. The existing CCTV cameras are connected to the Traffic Management Centre (TMC) at Ashok Nagar through broadband lease-lines, ensuring live video footages from the junctions. Here’s how the TMC works: “If someone crosses the line at the junctions when the red-light is on, we zoom the cameras onto the vehicle and note down the registration number. Then we post notices to the violators to pay the penalty for breaking the traffic rules,” explained an officer.

The Department is sure the technique works. “We made the BMTC pay Rs 25 lakh last year as penalty for violation by the BMTC bus drivers. The BMTC in turn collected the fine amount from the salaries of the drivers,” said a police officer.

Accidents recorded

The CCTV cameras have caught many accidents live. For instance, on July 17, it captured the footage of a tempo jumping the signal and hitting a motorist right at the crossroads. A traffic constable rushed to the spot. Although the driver tried to flee, he was caught and booked for reckless driving. The camera footage is now clear evidence for the police in court.

Two months back, on Outer Ring Road at Yelahanka, the CCTV camera exposed a hit and run case. “It was a rainy night, and there was no electricity. We had no evidence but thankfully the surveillance camera had videographed the entire event. We not only identified that it was a Meru cab which killed a man in the accident but also we could take down the registration number of the vehicle. Subsequently we arrested and booked the driver,” recalled Traffic ACP (North-East) Basha Saab.

However, there is a glitch. Very few private vehicle owners actually respond to the postal notices issued by the police. “We are sorry to say that people are taking our notices lightly. Last month our collection from private vehicles was somewhere around Rs 12,000. But these cameras have instilled some fear among the road users and not many venture to cross the line when the red signal is on,” said a police officer.

Incidentally, this measly collection of Rs 12,000 a month comes nowhere close to the installation charges of the CCTVs and establishment expenses of ‘e-monitoring’ by the traffic department.

At one glance

* Of the 38 CCTVs at Vidhana Soudha, most can only provide unidirectional images and are not equipped with the latest Panning, Tilting and Zooming (PTZ) technology. Invariably, all these cameras turn blind after sunset.
* CCTVs in educational institutions raise privacy concerns: Supreme Court, in most of its judgements construed the “Right to Privacy” as part of the Fundamental Right to “Protection of life and liberty” under Article 21 of the Constitution.
* Railway Protection Force (RPF) monitors the 41 CCTVs at the City railway station. The Yeshwantpur station has ten cameras, two of which were removed due to construction work there.
*  Very few private vehicle owners respond to notices issued by the traffic police. But police feel these cameras have instilled some fear among the road users and not many venture to cross the line when the red signal is on.

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